42:13.00N 08:54.00W Playa Arenas das Rodas Anchorage Isla de Cies

Tue 28 Jul 2015 14:52
Zoonie took us on a very gentle inter island sail south to this world famous beach on Isla Cies (Thies). Rob hooked one fish on the way but it decided it wasn’t ready to be caught.
Back in 2007 The Guardian claimed this was the best beach in the world “an authentic Caribbean beach”. I wonder if the journalist has visited every beach in the world to decide this? The beach is lovely but is now SO popular the only time it has that remote island idyll look is before 10.00 and after 20.30 when the last visitors have left. If the weather is ‘caribbean’ the beach is packed. These islands are part of the Spanish Marine Nature Reserve and in a way it is good that as many people as possible enjoy them. A leading factor that will keep them wild is the lack of cars and metalled roads. I was reminded of Sark where the only wheel transport is tractors and trailers, although there are a couple of white four by fours here also, one serving the teenagers campsite. The tracks are wide and well worn for walking, keeping people on the marked paths and thus maintaining the privacy of the wildlife.
We had a wander over the man-made causeway which provides protection from the sea to a salt-water lagoon full of conger eels, mullet, urchins, octopus, crab etc. The mole handles the many arrivals of visitor boats from Vigo, Cangas and Baiona, in fact one company boasts it brings around 1 million visitors a year and places are limited. (The Galapagos of Galicia? I hope they don’t become a victim of their own success.)
At one of the three bars we drank Alhambra Reserve Beer and at 6.4% it was tasty and potent, before returning to Zoonie for the night. As we sat in the cockpit enjoying the evening we saw three lads get into their dinghy for a spell ashore leaving behind their barking dog as dogs are banned from the island. After a while they returned clearly the better lubricated by the Alhambra brew and the next thing we saw was white Montmorency the dog barking at them as they jumped naked into the water for a cooling swim. I couldn’t help but think of the literary comparison of Three Men in a Boat, not forgetting the dog (the black dog, Montmorency) by Jerome K Jerome. But here the comparison must end for once back on board and preparing for departure, the anchor resting on its roller, one of them came up from below sporting an impressive and ready baby maker to show us! I averted my eyes of course. They were high on the Alhambra and their pretty little yacht took a winding route out from the anchorage.
24th July
In the early hours the wind piped up making the anchorage a noisy place. In fact there is no protection from any direction unless tucked up well close to the shore and those spots were taken by smaller craft. Still we hadn’t come all this way to be defeated so in the cool grey light of day Rob and I cleaned; I did the windows and mirrors inside and Rob the floors. Then we braved the elements, as the sun was emerging, and walked to both lighthouses. Faro de Cies is high up 175 m above sea level. The final climb over a granite stone walled track looks like the Great Wall of China from the air and is only for fairly fit walkers, while lower down Faro da Porta serves the gap between Isla Cies and Isla San Martino to the south. Both had us admiring the design and building skills of past generations.
After the rain of the night before the smell of eucalyptus oil was all pervading and we wandered back past blackthorn bushes covered in sloes and the youth campsite busy with football playing boys and girls. Lunch comprised tasty ‘harvest’ fish and chips and bread. That night we slept on the settee berths in the saloon away from the drone of the wind generator mast in the continuing strong wind. We hoped to go back ashore in the morning to walk the north end of the island but given the choice of a cosy marina or another risky and wet row ashore we took the former on the basis the islands have been here for millions of years and they’ll be here when we next visit, perhaps in a few days.